Gov. Cuomo’s education budget & policies


Gov. Cuomo’s education budget & policies

January 12, 2016

Are wealthy private donors calling the shots?

The 300 or so people who attended Fair Funding’s “Who’s Driving the Bus?” event last week will certainly be viewing tomorrow’s State of the State address by Governor Cuomo in a whole new light.

The advocacy event in Monroe featured Susan Lerner, a member of the non-profit organization “Common Cause,” and author of the eye-opening report, “Polishing the Apple: Examining Political Spending in New York to Influence Education Policy.”

Ms. Lerner presented a summary of research by Common Cause regarding how much money has been donated to New York State politicians over the past 10 years, and where that money comes from.

Of particular concern is the recent emergence of powerful national foundations and wealthy private investors who are major political contributors in New York, and have financed the recent wave of market-based educational interests.

Ms. Lerner illuminated this issue, and the lively panel discussion that followed helped attendees better understand the implications for public education funding.

During the panel discussion, Tim Kremer of NYSSBA (New York State School Boards Association,) Bob Lowry of NYSCOSS (New York State Council of School Superintendents,) Sparrow Tobin, a teacher in the Washingtonville school district and member of NYSUT (New York State United Teachers,) along with Ms. Lerner, answered questions posed by Barry Lewis, editor-in-chief of the Times-Herald Record.

Photo of Lynn Lillian, Barry Lewis, Tim Kremer, Susan Lerner, Bob Lowry and Sparrow Tobin

From left to right: Lynn Lillian, Fair Funding; Barry Lewis, TH-Record; Tim Kremer, NYSSBA; Susan Lerner, Common Cause; Bob Lowry, NYSCOSS; Sparrow Tobin, NYSUT

The past few years in public education have been marked by reduction in funding, chaotic directives from the state and power struggles over policy decisions.

If you “follow the dots” in Ms. Lerner’s research, highlighted in her presentation during “Who’s Driving the Bus,” it’s easy to draw the conclusion that private wealthy donors are indeed exerting their influence over education policies in New York.

Something to keep in mind as Governor Cuomo gives his annual State of the State address tomorrow, and in the future, as education policy in New York continues to change.


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